There are growing concerns in Athens about a spike in extreme rhetoric by Turkey, which this week accused Greece of “inhumane practices” against Muslim minorities and of acts of barbarism during the 19th century.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Gennimatas struck a firm tone in a response Friday while also seeking to stop tensions from escalating. “Turkey’s insistence on distorting history is unbecoming of a modern state,” he said. Calling on Turkey to “reflect on its historical responsibilities, especially regarding its conduct toward the Greek minority,” Gennimatas said the country should “follow Greece’s example and, at long last, work to consolidate good-neighborly relations in our region and, of course, its European prospects.”
Gennimatas’ statement was released by the ministry at around the same time that Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was meeting his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Geneva, on the sidelines of the “Strategic Dialogue on the Western Balkans Leaders Summit,” an initiative of the World Economic Forum.
The statement came in response to one by Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy, who on Thursday accused Greece of “inhumane practices” against Muslim minorities and of siding with “hostile circles against Turkey.”
Ostensibly responding to comments made by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on the Armenian genocide during a recent visit to Yerevan, Aksoy also accused Greece of having “systematically annihilated Turks and Muslims in the region during and after the period of independence from the Ottoman Empire.”
“We witness that Greece continues to take side with the hostile circles against Turkey and support their baseless stance and allegations,” Aksoy said.
“Even today, Greece continues its inhumane practices against its Turkish minorities, taking it as far as to punish muftis with imprisonment for performing a Friday prayer,” he added.